A Parody

A long time ago in a neighborhood nearly nearby…

For the past three hours, Juke has been playing the online game, Fix Up Your Robot. Then he realizes that he needs to clean the kitchen and wash the dishes before his mother, Mater Vader, comes home. She has plans for Pater Vader’s Surprise Birthday Party.

Juke walks into the kitchen, takes one look at the dishes stacked in the sink, and wants to throw-up. That is Chewy-ish for vomit. How is he going to get all this mess cleaned up before the Mater drives up in the driveway in her Ford Star Cruiser? Then the Voice of his Master, Hoagie Roll, whispers in his ear, “Use the Farce, Juke. Use the Farce.”

“Oh, great and wonderful Hoagie, how do I do that?”

“Think funny thoughts. Think funny thoughts.”

Before he can funny his thoughts, the Dark Clown sneaks into the kitchen. He takes one look at the mess, then says to Juke in his best James Earl Jones, “Come over to the Clown Side, Juke. You too can be a Clown.”

“How do I do that?”

“Think serious thoughts.”

“Think funny thoughts, Juke. You must not go over to the Clown Side.”

Out of nowhere, a little green gremlinish puppet springs into the air. His little green hands are formed into a fist. They hit the Dark Clown’s red nose. They hit it hard. The Dark Clown rushes out the back door, knowing he has been defeated by none other than Little Green Puppet, Farce Master.

On his way out, he calls to Juke, “Come over to the Clown Side.”

“Now,” Master Hoagie commands, “think funny thoughts and use the Farce, Juke. Use the Farce.”

Suddenly the Three Stooges meet the Marx Brothers and their sidekick, Lucille Ball, in Juke’s brain. Then he’s on the floor, laughing hysterically. The dishes start washing themselves, the kitchen mop mops the floor. Before you can say, “Abracadabra”, the kitchen is spotless. With a final Jack Benny / George Burns repartee, Juke sees that the dining room table has a new cloth on it.

Just as Juke finishes his last guffaw, he hears the roar of his mother’s Star Cruiser pull up into the driveway. The Little Green Puppet is out the door. And Master Hoagie says in his And-to-all-a-good-night Voice, “May the Farce be with you.” Then he too is gone.

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My Black Thumb

 With Spring coming on, I thought this would be the perfect piece to welcome her.

In the long, long time ago, I thought it would be nice to grow some flowers. So I chucked down to the local nursery and asked what would be a good flower to plant. I was overwhelmed with suggestions from that crew. It was like going out to dinner with a bunch of friends. Eight to be exact and they’re all saying, “You gotta try this. And this. And this.”

I mean the staff at the nursery went on and on about annuals and perennials. They suggested hibiscus, azaleas, roses, zinneas, periwinkles, begonias, rain lilies, magnolias, camelias and  all the kinds of flowers. They just knew they’d spiff up my lawn.

Little did they know that my lawn eats cats and dogs for breakfast. I have seen the neighborhood cat running forty miles an hour just to get away from the darn thing. But I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I didn’t share anything about the villain.

I didn’t plan to plant the flowers anywhere near the lawn. I bought several earth boxes and took some of the flowers with interesting sounding names. Begonia sounded Irish, so I took the potential begonia along with a periwinkle and azaleas. The staff threw in an hibiscus for free and I was a happy camper.

The nursery gave me instructions on how to plant, nurse and grow these little cuties into big adult flowers. The instructions came in a roll as long as a roll of toilet paper. I also bought some accessories like a little shovel to dig a hole in the dirt.

It cost me a big chunk of change but it was worth it. I mean, when I left that place, I was a ready teddy. And I was feeling good about myself. I was ready to beat that global warming single-handed and with one hand tied behind my back.

I got home and set the earth box out on my porch. I put it in a spot my lawn couldn’t see just in case. I got out my tiny shovel and dug holes in the dirt and planted my flowers. I watered them nice-like. Then I went back in my house, got myself a beer and settled into my nice comfy chair. You wouldn’t believe the smile I had on my face. I had done a good day’s work and I couldn’t have been happier.

Well, over the next few weeks, I watered them flowers just like the instructions in Chapter 32 of my roll said. I did not feed them the cheap plant food. I gave them the Good Stuff. Day after day, I did this for about two weeks.

Then one night I woke up to the weirdest sounds. It sounded like the noise was coming from the earth box. I ran out to the flowers and all of them were choking. They were having trouble breathing. Several of them had gone to the Big Flower Box in the Sky. One of the periwinkles choked out, “Water, water, water.”

I ran and filled the watering can. I got to the box. The periwinkle said, “Not tap water. Bottled wa–” and he died. It was the end of my flower-planting career. I asked my neighbor what had happened. He said, “So you thought you had a Green Thumb. Well, guess what. You and I both have black thumbs. The best thing you can do is go down to that nursery. Start dating the first single woman you meet there. Then marry her. That way you’ll have a Green Thumb in the family.”

And that’s exactly what I did. She has a way with flowers. And my lawn loves her too. Her name is Petunia Tree.

Romeo and Juliet Updated

Ever wonder about the motivation behind the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Shakespeare wasn’t telling how they became Verona’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys. What if Lady Montague, Romeo’s mom, and Capulet, Juliet’s dad, were lovers at one time? It puts a whole new spin on things. Gives the families motivation. No wonder the Montagues and Capulets are at war. Well, they should have told the kids. I have it on very good report that’s the real reason for that feud. That mythical fly on the wall reported it to me.
MOM: You do know what a s.o.b. your father is, don’t you?
JULIET: Dad, no. He’s a wonderful dad.
MOM: Right. Just like that Helen Montague is a great mom. No way.
JULIET: What do you mean?
MOM: You and that—that—that Romeo have the same father.
JULIET (shocked): Are you kiddng?
MOM: I caught ‘em making whoopee. Let’s just hope you and Romeo haven’t been making whoopee.
JULIET (distress): Well, I did let him kiss me.
MOM (concerned): And that was it, I hope.
JULIET: Well, no. There was some heavy petting.
MOM (really concerned): And that was it?
JULIET: Yes, ma’am.
MOM (crosses herself): I told you not to mess around on that balcony.
JULIET: But what is a balcony for? Doesn’t “balcony” mean “messing around” in Italian?
MOM: How should I know? I flunked Italian. Anyway no more messing around with Romeo.
JULIET: I always did wonder why Romeo had a Capulet big nose like the rest of us.
MOM: That’s not a nose. That’s a schnoz.

President’s Day Special: Why does anybody want to be President?

Here’s twenty-five reasons why it’s the best job ever:

1.You get your own song.
2.Everybody has to stand when you enter the room.
3.Even if you have never been to a library, you get your very own library. And it will be filled with your stuff.
4.There will be big fat books about you. Just look how many have been written about Washington’s cherry tree or Lincoln’s big shoes or Coolidge’s rocking chairs.
5.You get stuff named after you, especially streets, airports and bathrooms.
6.You get your own band. It’s great for parties. You can say to your friends, “You bring the food and the booze. I’ll bring the band.”
7.You’re so important people talk about you all the time.
8.You have your own house. Of course, it’s a loaner. But four years without paying for room and board. Pretty darn good, I’d say.
9.Your dog gets the run of the house. But don’t pull on his ears the way LBJ did. It’s a big no-no.
10.Anything you want to eat you pick up the phone. It’s yours in fifteen minutes.
11.Congress has to listen to you. Not. We know Congress never listens to anybody.
12.Think of the selfies. Everybody wants to take a selfie with you.
13.Any place you go it’s a parade.
14.You get free pens to sign stuff with.
15.You get a loaner cabin in the woods to have Summit Meetings at.
16.You get your own day in February. Of course, you have to share with all those other Presidents.
17.When you want to go to a show or a movie, you get front row seats.
18.You get your own airplane. And it’s a gem. It’s supplied with really good stuff. Like your favorite teddy bear.
19.Another benny is that helicopter. So you’ll never be stuck in traffic.
20.Movies will be made about you. How you killed all those vampires.
21.It will be a boon to the tourist trade for your home town. So you’ll be a hero to the folks back home. A bonus: your hometown will get a spruce up from the National Parks Service.
22.You might even get your face on money. Maybe the three dollar bill.
23.Your portrait will be everywhere. You’ll be up on the wall at the Post Office with the FBI’s ten most wanted. Quite an honor, I’d say.
24.People in uniforms salute when you show up.
25.You have a bowling alley in your basement.

There are some downers. You have to play golf. It’s required. Even Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln played golf. There’s a rumor that it was invented by Benjamin Franklin on his lunch break during the writing of the Declaration of Independence. So you can see why golf is required. It’s on the application. It’s the patriotic thing.

Uncle Bardie’s Book Selection: Summer Lightning

Summer Lightning
by P. G. Wodehouse
320 pages. The Overlook Press (September, 2003).

P. G. Wodehouse had a way with words. He walked that tight rope that comic writers, at least the great ones, walk. One step  to the left or one step to the right and they fall off into the abyss. But Pelham Grenville was always funny. In an English sort of way. As the saying goes, he had the knack. Only Mark Twain had more knack.

“Summer Lightning” takes us away to the fresh air and the country life of Blandings Castle. This tome could have easily been titled “Produce That Pig”. Instead Wodehouse chose “Summer Lightning”. Not sure why. The pig isn’t carrying that name. She is named the Empress of Blandings and that enormous pig is Lord Emsworth’s pride and joy. Lord Emsworth is the lord and master of Blandings Castle.

Unfortunately, the Empress is pig-napped. By none other than Ronnie Fish, Emsworth’s nephew and the son of Old Miles Fish of the Brigade Guards. In other words, Ronnie’s blue blood has blue blood. But he has no money. Dash it all.

So, what does a blue blood with no money do if he wants to marry a chorus girl named Sue Brown? He comes up with a scheme. He’ll temporarily borrow the pig, hide it out, then return it to his uncle for a rapturous applause from said uncle.

I was stunned to hear that someone of the aristocratic persuasion would sink so low. I blushed. My illusions were shattered. To break one of The Commandments. It’s one thing to break the adultery clause which aristocrats often do. At least, in the stories. But theft. No way. These are the noblesse oblige.

And the thefting does not stop there. The Hon. Gallahad, Emsworth’s bro, has all the dope on everybody in his class. For him, that is everybody that matters. Society, you know. He’s been saving up for years. Now he is producing his Reminiscences.

Those memoirs are so dastardly dastard two people want them snatched. Emsworth’s sister, Lady Constance, and Emsworth’s next door neighbor, who is accused of pig-napping. It seems thievery is alive and well among the aristocratic class at Blandings Castle. First the pig, now the manuscript.

On top of that, Hon. Galahad is going to steal the suspected pig stealer’s pig. Take that, you dastardly fellow. When all is said and done, this is the story of two pigs in a pokey, don’t you think?

Talk about your regular getting your signals crossed. Ronnie not only has goo-goo eyes for Sue Brown. Lord Emsworth’s niece, the exceedingly charming Millicent Threepwood, has shown interest in the good lord’s secretary, Hugh Carmody. Actually she’s shown more than interest. She’s in love.

Well, Hugh has to go into town. London, that is. To hire a detective for the missing pig. While he’s there, he decides a night on the town is just the thing. Calls up his old buddy, Sue Brown. She says, “Why not? What can it hurt?” They go dancing. Before he knows it, he will have some ‘splaining to do.

Ronnie, being the Fish he is, decides to drive up to London for a night with the Suze. Sees the Suze with another guy. Steam shoots out of both his ears and a volcano goes off. He heads back home and does the next best thing. Becomes engaged to Millicent who has found out that she too has been betrayed. I am telling you guys. Don’t do the bachelor or bachelorette party. It can end up with the wedding doing a Titanic.

Rupert Baxter, that most efficient of former efficient secretaries of Lord Emsworth, tells Emsworth’s sister, Lady Constance, he can deduce with all his deductibilities and find el missing pig-o. She believes him ’cause he’s her fav.

And who do you think this former secretary has his eye on for the leading suspect? The current secretary. Sounds like that green-eyed monster Jealousy has been let loose. Even if Hugh didn’t do it, the suspicion is enough to destroy Rupert’s rival in his Lordship’s affections.

But Hugh must have a partner. That pig is going to need tending while Hugh is gallavanting about, doing his thing. And does Mr. Efficiency have a suspect in mind? Yes, he does.

None other than Beach the Butler. Poor Butler. It sounds like the whale is about to be beached. Not only did he help Ronnie Fish, he is now suspected of the deed. Talk about something being rotten in Denmark. The fish is beginning to smell.

For whatever reason that fickled finger of fate has, Hugh and Millicent are thrown together. They discover the Empress. Before you know it, Beach shows up to feed the pig. When inquisitioned, he has a story. A story that will rescue Hugh from the purgatory of bachelorhood and allow him into the heaven of marriage to his one true love, Millicent. 

What’s the story? Now that would be a spoiler.